Zen conversations with a Coach (Part I)


  • ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’

    Viktor E. Frankl

As a coach I get asked curious questions about the Zen Coaching side of me, so I thought it would be a good idea to answer them here too! So here goes Part I!
1. What is Zen Coaching?
People usually come to coaching when they feel stuck or their lives are imbalanced; when they are searching for purpose or for connection with themselves or the world; when they feel unease and they need change and new possibilities in their lives; when they finally want to give their dreams a try and they need someone to cheer them on… Coaching supports you in moving forwards, in getting from where you are today to where you want to be, learning an improved way of thinking and functioning along the way. With Zen Coaching you get to advance on your goals and something more – and this is what makes Zen Coaching so special – you also learn to simply be, instead of doing all the time! It is a very practical and grounded form of coaching, whilst also being a journey to get to know yourself better and to learn to live in tune with your own voice. In the end, everything you achieve, all the changes you make in your life, come from a place of true connection to yourself, a place of integrity.
2. What does it mean to ‘simply be’?
In Zen Coaching there is nothing to fix, no right or wrong, nowhere to go and nothing to do – just curiosity about truth. By relaxing into being with whatever shows up in a session, comfortable or not (it’s all ok!), instead of trying to turn it around or push it away (i.e., our usual instinct to do something about everything!), you take some distance from the struggle with everyday drama, and you access a place of clarity where you know what you need to do next. You ‘see’ the solutions inside and, more importantly, without struggle. Anything other than relaxing into being is an effort! And effortlessness is key to Zen Coaching, and we all could do with more ease in our lives!
3. The message we normally get is to always be positive, so how come Zen Coaching advocates staying with the discomfort?
This is a radical approach and that is precisely the reason it works at a deep level. There seems to be a mathematical principle: the more we avoid looking into our pain, the longer the pain stays in our lives! Through coaching, in a safe, trusting space, staying with the discomfort with open curiosity, for a little while longer than a normal conversation would allow, at some point the energy changes… And insights happen and a way out is seen automatically and effortlessly. Clients discover this again and again. Neuroscience research also supports this way in which the brain comes out of the ‘pain of current reality’ as long as it has been allowed to stay in it sufficiently… It’s just the way the world works, it seems! The more we allow ourselves to experience darkness, the more light we will see! But there is something else here too, that is really important: by allowing life to show up as it is, we are actually honoring it. We are treating ourselves with respect and allowing ourselves the dignity of learning and growing with life, every moment. We are choosing to use our awareness to take responsibility for our lives. I always ask myself: if I don’t do it, who on earth will?!


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